Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), we have been trying to identify ways the Florida library community can benefit from the act’s provisions and keep the library community up-to-date about what we learn. Currently the main focus is on broad band services as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Federal Communications Commission, and U.S. Department of Agriculture are hard at work developing grant program rules and procedures for the Act’s broadband provisions. It is our understanding that there will be 3 broad band grant application rounds with the first coming perhaps as early as this April through June.
We are advocating for an approach where libraries can submit their lists of broadband needs – service upgrades, equipment, installation, and budgets that would be aggregated into a single proposal at the state level. There is concern that NTIA does not have the personnel to handle the thousands of applications they might receive so there would be clear advantages to aggregating proposals.
Planning is also underway at the state level to utilize stimulus funds to build broad band infrastructure to un-served or under-served Florida communities. Some libraries, particularly those serving rural communities, may be able to benefit from these efforts also.
While we wait for the program details to be developed, this would be a good time for interested libraries to conduct technology and service assessments and identify needed service increases, equipment, and other costs associated with delivering broad band services that meet your communities’ needs. Hopefully you will soon be invited to submit this information for inclusion in a statewide grant application. Provided below are some questions to assist you with assessment and planning.
- State Library and Archives of Florida – Economic Recovery and Florida Libraries
- ALA – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Public Library Broadband Self-assessment Questions
1. Does your library have sufficient bandwidth to support current services and Internet use? Are your computer workstations slow at anytime of the day? Does your library need additional bandwidth at the main library or branches? How much additional bandwidth does your library need? It may be advisable to arrange for an assessment of your bandwidth needs by a qualified IT specialist. If your county or city has fiber infrastructure and they are willing to let you use it, what will it cost to connect to it? What would be the cost of upgrading your library's the broadband service?
2. Does your library plan to add additional services that would significantly affect bandwidth utilization? Additional workstations? New branches? Wireless? New service emphasis using bandwidth intensive applications like video or teleconferencing? Be sure to factor in those costs for new services.
3. What equipment upgrades will be necessary to support needed new services and increased bandwidth? If you are upgrading connections, you may need new routers, switches, other equipment and cabling. Do you have adequate network management equipment and software (for bandwidth monitoring and shaping). Again, it may be advisable to arrange for an assessment of your technology by a qualified IT specialist.
4. What staffing needs would you have if you were to participate in a major upgrade of your broadband connection, the library’s IT infrastructure, and broadband-based services? Can you describe these needs in terms of additional staff hours or additional positions and at what cost?
5. Once the ARRA funding ends (in 2010-1011) what will you need to do in order to sustain the broadband upgrade and/or new services in subsequent budget years?
6. Are there any arrangements you would need to make with your local government in order to be able to participate in a statewide effort for a major expansion of public library broadband services?
7. If you have ideas for additional statewide public library broadband initiatives?